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Full text of "Verdict On India"

102                                    VERDICT  OX IXDIA
Es own laundry. His children are forbidden to go near the village
school ? He builds a school of his own and staffs it with the finest
teachers in, the world.
If only some courageous producer would make a picture worthy
of this subject's tragic possibilities—and danm the box office !
Another subject which cries out for dramatic treatment is the
institution of wpurdah*—the Muslim tradition which compels a
man's wife to cover her entire body in a thick veil for the whole of
her life, so that no other man may ever see her. It is not for me
to criticize this custom—we may well leave that to the Muslims
themselves, whose more advanced members attack it bitterly and
consistently. They describe it as cruel, morbid, unnatural, un-
healthy, crippling to the body and torturing to the mind. They
call it an evil relic of the dark ages of women.
What a theme for a film—for a hundred films—the rending of
the veil, the struggle to the sunlight !
But in order to make the most of these dramatic riches you must
have a producer who is something of an iconoclast; he needs bite
and speed and punch* he must have the spirit of attack.
There are such producers in India, but they can be counted on
the fingers of one hand. Among them must be mentioned Sohrab
Modi, who recently showed me his film 'Sikander,' which deals
with the Iiidiao invasion of Alexander the Great. This is a
virile picture* with pace and flair, well up to the standard of
that old masterpiece 'The Birth of a Nation.' Another highly
intelligent producer is J. B. H. Wadia, who made history with
*The Court Dancer/ India "t> first motion picture with English
dialogue. However, even %Thc Court D?ncer* cannot be called an
unqualified success. It has some poetical photography; but to
Western eyes its popular star Sadhona Bose is regrettably heavy
on her feet, and its English dialogue is startlingly jejune. For
instance, on numerous occasions, the only verbal come-back to a
dramatic statement is the bald interjection c Oh 1' The effect of
this is unintentionally comic. 'Darling, they are coming to kill
you/" says the .hero, or words to that effect. C0h !' replies Miss
Bose. It is not an, inspiring monosyllable, delivered in bulk.
Yet both Modi and Wadia have touches of genius; both are
determined to devote their lives to lifting Indian films out of the